Importing a Car From the USA – Cost, VAT, and How to Proceed

Petr Novák

The Ford Mustang GT, Dodge Challenger, RAM 1500, Chevrolet Camaro, and other legendary American cars are either not available for sale in Europe or only offered with modifications. If you wish to park an American car in your garage, the solution is to import a car from the USA. Find out where to search for new and used cars, the cost of importing, and who can assist you.

Importing a Car From the USA – Cost, VAT, and How to Proceed | ©

  1. Table of Contents
    1. How to Proceed with Importing a Car from the USA
    2. Cost of Importing a Car from the USA
    3. Example: The Cost of Importing a Car From the USA
    4. Useful Information About Importing Cars From the USA

    How to Proceed with Importing a Car from the USA

    🔍 Where to Search for Cars in the USA

    You can look for new and used cars on, eBay Motors,, or Classic cars can be found at and

    When searching for cars, bear in mind that optimal locations include New York, Virginia, Maryland, and other East Coast states. The cost of shipping the car increases significantly as the dealer’s distance from the port grows.

    Some importers have a listing on their website of cars ready to be shipped to Europe or that have already been imported. Sometimes, all you need to do is send them an inquiry, and they will find a suitable car.

    👔 Car Importers from the USA

    In Europe, there are many companies importing cars from the USA, and likely even more individuals. Some companies have sister companies in America, their own employees, and warehouses or business partners.

    The quality of car imports from the USA varies, as with all services. A quality importer will check the technical condition and history of the car, ensure it’s checked out in America, and take care of registration, including customs documentation.

    Personally, I don’t have enough experience with any company to publicly recommend or dissuade from it. When considering importing a car, approach multiple companies. Look up their references and form your own impression of their reputation.

  2. Cost of Importing a Car from the USA

    The cost of importing a car from the USA and registering it in Europe is influenced by a number of factors. The first group of factors (duty, tax, exchange rate) is directly proportional to the purchase price of the car. The second part of the cost consists of transport to the US port, transport to Europe, or the commission for the intermediary.

    🛣️ Transporting a Car to a US Port

    The purchased car needs to be checked out in the US, customs paperwork processed, and the car transported to the port on a tractor trailer. The cost depends on where the car is physically located and from where it will be shipped to Europe.

    🚢 Shipping in a Container to Europe

    At the port, the car needs to be loaded into a container, secured, and sealed. The price of the transport varies significantly, and the origin and destination also have an impact. Container insurance is included in the price.

    👮 Unloading and Documentation

    At the port of destination, the car must be unloaded from the container, and customs documents prepared. This process can take up to several days, during which time parking fees are collected.

    🛃 Customs Duty – 10%

    Customs duty is set at 10% throughout the European Union. A single EU TARIC system is used to determine the duty amount; the nomenclature code for passenger cars (not hybrids) is 87033290. Customs duty is usually paid at the port of entry customs inspection where the container arrives.

    Customs duty for a car imported from the US is calculated based on the price of the car, its transport, and the insurance for the transport.

    👨‍🔧 Transporting a Car to Your Country, Homologation, and Registration

    A cleared car needs to be transported to your country on a tow truck, and likely modifications (such as lights or electronics) need to be made to it in order to successfully homologate it. After that, the car gets its tags sorted, passes the MOT test, and is registered.

    🧾 VAT

    Value-added tax varies from country to country.

    💸 Commission for an Importer

    There are a number of US car importers operating in Europe. They typically provide a complete service including transport of the car in the US from the port, shipping to Europe, customs documentation, and registration of the car for European plates. The extent of their commission depends on the range of services included.

    To give you an idea, count on a commission of $2,000, or 6% of the price of the car including transport, homologation, or customs.

    ⚠️ Exceptions and Specific Cases

    All the above calculations should be taken as a guideline. There are exceptions for each of the price components listed, which can significantly affect it. For example, different rules apply when importing vintage cars, cars over 30 years old, trucks, etc.

  3. Example: The Cost of Importing a Car From the USA

    For example, let’s consider the import of a two-year-old Ford Mustang GT with a mileage of 11,500 mi into the Czech Republic. Calculations were made using calculators from several companies dealing with importing cars from the USA. However, keep in mind that each component of the price can shift significantly. Please take the calculation as a guideline.

    Item Cost
    Cost of the Car $41,500
    Transportation of the Car in the USA $900
    Shipping to EU $2,750
    Duty (10%) $4,515
    Transport From Port to Czech Republic $450
    Documentation, Homologation and Modifications $1,850
    Importer’s Commission $2,000
    VAT (21%) $10,385
    Total Price $64,350
  4. Useful Information About Importing Cars From the USA

    🔧 Homologation of Cars From the USA

    The regulations for operating cars in Europe and America are different, so in most cases imported cars need to be modified. The most common modifications involve replacing the red turn signals, adding a rear fog light, and readjusting other lights. Experienced importers are familiar with the standards and can rebuild the cars so that they can be homologated for use in the EU.

    ⛽ There Are No Diesel Cars in America

    Cars sold in the US are always equipped with a petrol engine; you’re very unlikely to see a diesel vehicle in the classifieds.

    📝 Checking the History of a US Vehicle

    You can check a vehicle’s history on, which will detect incidents such as accidents, theft, mileage tampering, changes of ownership, or MOTs. The website operates on a very similar principle, where checking a car’s history requires only the license plate and the VIN.

    Both services charge a fee, but if you’ve already selected a car, it’s recommended to purchase the report.

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